When it comes to Bob Dylan, it’s best to expect the unexpected. Never one to play by the rules, Dylan’s six-decade catalog, which ranges from blues ballads to religious rock to standard selections, implies that there are no rules when it comes to his music.
Trying to make sense of any Dylan song is often futile. Part of its intrigue is the ambiguity of its music. The lyrics can be interpreted in dozens of different ways, and the arrangements change from year to year as Dylan comes up with new ways to present his songs.
Still, some tracks consistently left listeners scratching their heads. Some of these songs might be considered second rate to Dylan’s masterpieces, but it’s also worth noting that some of his weirder songs are some of his best and most popular. From curious cover choices to unorthodox original numbers, we’ve got you covered with Bob Dylan’s 10 weirdest songs below.
10. “All the Tired Horses” (from the 1970s self-portrait)
There’s an argument to be made that all of the 1970s self-portrait, an album that Dylan deliberately designed to be “a joke”, is bizarre. There are several songs on the LP that, for good reason, never appeared on compilations or best-of lists, but perhaps the most confusing is “All the Tired Horses”, which features no vocals. from Dylan, just a small female choir. voices singing the same two lines over and over again: “All the sun-tired horses / How am I supposed to ride?“
9. “The ugliest girl in the world” (from 1988 In the groove)
by Dylan in the groovelike its predecessor, Stunned loaded, was a huge disappointment. The album was once again a collaborative effort, featuring tracks like “Ugliest Girl in the World”, which was co-written with Grateful Dead lyricist Robert Hunter. The song’s blues-rock arrangement isn’t necessarily obnoxious, and Dylan’s vocal performance is quite strong, but those lyrics! “Well, the woman I love, she’s got a hook in her nose / Her eyebrows meet, she’s wearing second-hand clothes.” In addition, the choristers point out a rude sentiment: “Man, she’s ugly, must be ugly.”
8. “Wiggle Wiggle” (from the 1990s Under the red sky)
It’s not exactly clear what “stir, stir, stir like a bowl of soup” Where “like a bucket of milk“, but according to this song by Dylan, if you squirm enough, you’ll end up vomiting fire and raising the dead. The album, which featured several high profile appearances, was dedicated to “Gabby Goo Goo”, presumably that of Dylan, 4-year-old daughter This might explain the cadence of the nursery rhyme to “Wiggle Wiggle.” Dylan later admitted that he wasn’t in the strongest parts of songwriting at the time. “I wasn’t bringing anything into the studio at all, I was completely disillusioned,” he said. rolling stone in 2006. “I would let someone else take over everything and just come up with the lyrics to the melody of the song.”
7. “New Pony” (from 1978 street legal)
When “New Pony”, a slow blues taken from street legal, starts, you might think Dylan is singing about a new pet named Lucifer, who has to be put down after breaking his leg. But as the song progresses, it becomes more apparent that the pony is a metaphor for a woman, an object of intense sexual desire by the end of the song: “Come here, pony / I want to climb on top of you onceThe weirdest part of what might be Dylan’s dirtiest song is that his then-girlfriend, Helena Springs, and future wife, Carolyn Dennis, sing backing vocals.
6. “Spanish is the loving language” (from 1973 Dylan)
1973 Dylan was compiled and released by Columbia Records without any input from Dylan. The album is made up of studio takes that Dylan never intended to release. “Spanish Is the Loving Tongue” is a showcase for this nasal tone that Dylan began using in 1969. (The song’s lyrics are based on a 1907 poem by cowboy Charles Badger Clark; they were set to music in 1925 by Billy Simon.) through, the track picks up speed, but the Spanish-flavored song remains more curious than essential.
5. “Lenny Bruce” (from 1981 love shot)
Amid love shot, the third in Dylan’s trilogy of Christian albums, sits “Lenny Bruce,” dedicated to the late stand-up comic who was convicted in a 1964 obscenity trial. (He was posthumously pardoned in 2003. ) The track features Dylan soloing on the piano, sadly singing. “I wrote this song in five minutes!” he said in an interview in 1981. “It’s true, I rode with him once in a taxi. I found it a little strange after his death, that people made him such a hero. When he was alive, he couldn’t even take a break. And certainly now comedy is gross and dirty and vulgar and very unfunny and stupid and tasteless and all that.”
4. “Must Be Santa” (from 2009 Christmas in the heart)
Many artists have made Christmas albums, but Dylan’s version of Christmas tunes, 2009 Christmas in the heart, is unlike anyone else. His cover of “Must Be Santa” was inspired by the group Brave Combo. “Someone sent us their record for our radio show [Theme Time Radio Hour]”, Dylan explained. “It’s a regional band from Texas that takes regular songs and changes the way you think.” Plus, there’s the video that features Dylan in a wig at a rowdy party.
3. “Polka Dots and Moonbeams” (from 2016 fallen angels)
Shadows in the night, Dylan’s 2015 album of traditional pop standards, linked the singer-songwriter to Frank Sinatra. Dylan’s Great American Songbook Cover Trilogy – Shadows in the night, fallen angels (2016) and Triplicate (2017) – include particular picks, like “Polka Dots and Moonbeams”. Dylan doesn’t enter until the song is halfway through, as he describes “a pug-nosed dream” of a woman who captures his heart. It’s a bit like “The ugliest girl in the world”, but much more romantic.
2. “If Dogs Run Free” (from the 1970s new morning)
A tantalizing piano riff begins “If Dogs Run Free” before settling into a simpler jazz groove. Dylan half talks and half sings through it new morning track, but the weirdest part is the scat vocals from Maeretha Stewart, a comedian whose work includes The genius, School Rock! and sesame street. (She also sang backing vocals on self-portrait.) At worst, it’s a weird-sounding song that sits in the middle of the divisive 1970 LP; at best, it’s an intriguing attempt at something different.
1. “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream” (from 1965 bring it all home)
Even Dylan and producer Tom Wilson can’t help but burst out laughing when the tape spins to record “Bob Dylan’s 115th Dream,” a one-song rollercoaster ride whose cast of characters includes cops, Brits , a cow from Guernsey, a girl from France and someone named Captain Arab, a playful reference to Moby-Dickis Captain Aha. Frenzied and absurd, the song is a prime example of Dylan painting a vivid portrait using only words. When the narrator meets Christopher Columbus at the end of the song, he has only one message: “Good luck”.
Bob Dylan Albums Ranked
Unsurprisingly, Bob Dylan’s recording career has had many ups and downs. It’s inevitable when you stay over 50 and release three dozen albums during that time.